Sitting here crammed into a US Airways flight to Charlotte. I had a “solid,” taper- and next-day-flight-induced four hours of sleep last night. The coming race went round and round in my head as I peeked at the clock to see it was only 1…2…3…4 o’clock.
Anyway, I’ve done some scouting to see where I stand in the field. My AG has 86 competitors. (There are three other AGs with between 85 and 90.) Ignoring the 44 year olds and including the 39 year olds, it seems like there are 12 others who should comfortably beat me. Then there’s a group of five who I labeled as “Better, close.” Two of them were ranked higher in the All American rankings last year and also beat me at Nationals last year by no more than 90 seconds. While they’re probably thinking the same thing, I feel like my improvements this year should make up the gap. The other three were just behind me in the AA rankings and had some pretty good race results. So that’s 17 total so far. Then there’s a group of 9, one of whom was ahead of me in the AA rankings, who seem like they could be very close. That makes a total of 26. It’s interesting to note that of the 86 in my AG, only 9 others were at Hagg Lake last year. I’ll count that as another slight advantage.
Team USA comes from the top 18, rolling down to 25. So I’m certainly in the mix. Thank you to those who have offered encouraging words. Knowing people are “watching” helps on race day, especially during those low points. One comment in particular stuck with me- “Take some risks.” We’re only talking about a bit over 2 hours here. It’s too short to DNF due to too much early effort. Sure, going bananas on the bike could sap some running energy, but it won’t end the day. I need to be smart, but if I’m ever going to push the envelope further than ever before, this will be the day. This isn’t a “B” race in the middle of the season. This is it.
One tweak to the race plan, especially on the run, is to pick up the pace for 30 seconds or so at the points when I feel like backing off. It worked at Crank the Kanc. On the steep section, there were times when I saw my power fade. I stood up, picked it up for 30 seconds or so, then settled into my target pace again. I repeated it all the way up the hill. I’ve heard of others doing the same thing. This should work especially well in the second half of the run.
As I mentioned earlier, the weather forecast still looks about as good as possible for Alabama in August. The humidity should come down, and the high temp is supposed to be “just” 86.
I’ll check in later.